White House counsel Pat Cipollone insisted in his first remarks during the Senate impeachment trial that senators would conclude that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter’s op-ed Jayapal: ‘We will end up with another Trump’ if the US doesn’t elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a ‘cover up,’ ‘national disgrace’ MORE “has done absolutely nothing wrong.”
“We believe that once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong and that these articles of impeachment do not even begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution,” Cipollone said in brief remarks at the outset of Tuesday’s proceedings.
He insisted that the trial would show House Democrats have “absolutely no case” for impeaching and removing Trump from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The White House counsel also backed the resolution setting the rules for the trial offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a ‘cover up,’ ‘national disgrace’ Romney pledges ‘open mind’ ahead of impeachment trial McConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial MORE (R-Wis.), calling it a “fair way to proceed with this trial.”
“It is modeled on the Clinton resolution,” Cipollone said, referring to the impeachment trial of President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMcConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial Trump lawyers urge senators to swiftly acquit Trump in impeachment trial The American disease and death bowls MORE. “It requires the House managers to stand up and make their opening statement and make their case.”
“It is long past time to start this proceeding and we are here today to do it,” Cipollone added, knocking House Democrats for delaying the submission of the articles to the upper chamber after the lower chamber voted nearly along party lines to impeach Trump on Dec. 18.
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump’s impeachment team House revives agenda after impeachment storm Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public MORE (D-Calif.) withheld the articles for several weeks while expressing concerns the trial in the GOP-controlled Senate would not be fair, seeking leverage for Democrat as they push for witnesses to be called and new evidence to be introduced.
Cipollone is leading the president’s legal team along with Trump’s personal attorney, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowWhite House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump’s impeachment team Democrats push back on White House impeachment claims, saying Trump believes he is above the law Trump lawyers urge senators to swiftly acquit Trump in impeachment trial MORE.
While a trial force behind the scenes, the White House counsel has not been a major public face of the Trump administration, and his remarks on Tuesday served as his first public introduction to many Americans.
The Trump legal team has also brought on high-profile attorneys, including Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzTrump lawyers urge senators to swiftly acquit Trump in impeachment trial George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: ‘Hard to see how either could help’ Trump defenders argue president can’t be removed for abuse of power MORE and former independent counsel Ken Starr, who investigated Clinton, to have speaking roles in the trial.
Trump’s attorneys filed a brief on Monday that urged the Senate to swiftly reject the charges against the president, describing them as deficient and accusing House Democrats of a “brazen political act.”
Trump’s attorneys also argued Trump had legitimate reason to raise 2016 election interference and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter’s op-ed Jayapal: ‘We will end up with another Trump’ if the US doesn’t elect progressive White House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump’s impeachment team MORE during the July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president that is at the heart of the impeachment proceedings. Democrats have accused the president of pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that could benefit his reelection campaign.
“President Trump’s brief confirms that his misconduct is indefensible,” the seven Democratic impeachment managers wrote in a 32-page memo in response on Tuesday.
The Senate will debate McConnell’s resolution on Tuesday, setting up opening arguments to begin on Wednesday. The House impeachment managers will begin with their own arguments, followed by the president’s attorneys.